Compare how "Brave New World" and "Blade Runner" explore the tension between humanity and the natural world.

Essay by bz2000High School, 12th grade March 2004

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The notion of a 'natural world' is one that suggests an environment that has been formed by nature; growing spontaneously, uncultivated and undergoing natural rhythms that emerge periodically. It is this natural world that incorporates flora and fauna. However, the dominant species in this setting is not the human race; rather, it is the natural environment that embraces humans as a part of its habitat. This theme is unequivocal in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" (BNW) and Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner - The Directors Cut" (BR) as both texts examine the interplay between nature and humanity. The natural environment and the conflict purported with humanity explored in BNW and BL must be examined in correlation to not only the physical habitat, but also as a social issue.

Aldous Huxley composed BNW in 1932 following the aftermath of World War I. As a result, Huxley's context reflects many historical and social perceptions that were apparent in his period.

BNW satirises cynical visions envisaged by totalitarian parties; exposing flaws and dangers that deny the fundamental aspects of humanity and individual freedoms, allowing the natural world to be obliterated.

Similar to Huxley, Ridley Scott's BL (1982) presents a futuristic world that has been significantly affected by the progress of technology. However, this dystopian projection contrasts to Huxley's world as he examines an environment that has been completely deteriorated at the hands of humanity. Scott's tension exists as a reflection of the rapid technological advancement occurring during the 1980's.The Asian motif that is seen in the movie, epitomised by the giant billboard of the Asian woman, illustrates the rise of Asian economies, known as the Asian Tigers. Commercialism was another motif that is prevalent and is indicative of the subsuming role of the government as large multinationals become very influential.

Both texts employ a variety of techniques appropriate to genre so as to illustrate the theme of a tension between humanity and the natural world. In order to create the appearance of reality and allow responders to believe in the possibility of such a world, Huxley employs extensive jargon in science, psychology and technology. This supplements the use of figurative language that also bears numerous literary, historical and biblical allusions to create a sense of authenticity - thereby reinforcing the notion that the populace has been a product of an uncongenial technology.

Similarly, Scott uses a variety of film techniques to examine the relationship between the environment and humanity. BL typifies the film noir genre with dark rooms filtered by light slicing through plastered walls, alleys cluttered with garbage, abandoned warehouses where dust looms in the air, rain-slickened streets and a melancholy tone. With significance placed in lighting and camera angles, Scott is able to parallel to the story line to camera positioning so as to present the relationship between nature and humanity.

The natural world has not been destroyed in BNW as in BR; rather, it has been marginalised and rendered meaningless. The 1930's preoccupation with the rational, the consumer-orientated and the technological has rendered nature as vast, tamed spaces where recreation takes place. The countryside still exists and does not seem to have been ravaged such as LA 2019.

This pessimistic prophecy associates the Savage Reservation as being impoverished, dirty and ravaged by disease thereby giving members of the brave new world a choice of only two appalling communities. Evidently, as a part of the modern audience, a tension is apparent between humanity and the natural world. It is the notion that the natural world is surrendered for the advancement of the community.

The physical environment of the BNW contrasts to the setting of Los Angeles 2019 presented in BR. Scott uses film noir to present a cityscape that is dark, grim and polluted. The streets are narrow and overcrowded as the populace shield themselves with umbrellas, goggles or gas masks to scamper to covered areas in the squalid scenery. Artificial neon lights have replaced natural sunlight and this polluted metropolis dominated by technology can be hardly considered 'natural' - as humanity has exploited the natural environment so as to destroy it.

In BNW humanity has been utterly removed from the natural world and its rhythms in that viviparous birth, family relationships, aging, monogamous love and death either do not exist or are deemed meaningless. The human condition and psyche encompassing fear, uncertainty and a desire to understand our environment and origins has been eradicated through a suppression of individuality controlled through the caste system.

Similarly, Scott also demonstrates the way in which humanity has been removed from natural rhythms. The artificiality of the urban or even post urban environment is fused with the lack in interaction between humans, delineating a sense of isolation. This is further explored in the way in which inhabitants of this world have no discern for attachment, such as Tyrell, Deckard and JF Sebastian that all live in solidarity.

Both composers have prognosticated about the values of future generations, such as the world that they have presented. This also shows conflicting interests between the environment and humanity, as humanity seeks to achieve maximum benefit at the dispense of natural well being.

In BNW Huxley illustrates a community that lacks any moral and social values. Rather than individual parents instilling their own values into their children, the state chooses how and what each child will learn. Thus, the desertion of parents leads to children growing up to be unaffectionate individuals who have no real emotions. This inability to express true love is typified by the adolescent polygmic games. What Huxley is trying to comment upon here is that in a utopian society there is a hedonistic approach to life, where one may be able to seek maximum pleasure at the expense of ethics - which are not considered to be important as they have little significance in driving the community

Likewise, futures where humanity faces a moral bankruptcy is also suggested in BR. Human 'achievement' in the advancement of technology has resulted in the development of replicants that are analogous to humans. Humans have built creatures to enslave as menials. They are allowed to feel their servitude then die. This society has designed slaves to do the dirty work, created them in a social image with the abilities that transcend our own human limits, yet with the meanness of spirit we ensure that they do not outlive us.

Furthermore, in BNW the implementation of the Bokanovsky leads to devaluation of life because human life can be easily replaced through scientific experimentation. "...after all, what is an individual?... we can make a new one with the greatest ease - as many as we like." This clearly epitomises a conflict between the natural environment and humanity. Humanities desire for a caste society has led to a destruction of natural life. The values of a contemporary audience that deem to be morally correct find that the values exposed in the BNW have been vastly pervaded as a result of a Marxist attitude.

Contrastingly, Scott presents a world that is driven by capitalistic methodology. In the world of 2019 genetic engineering has also presented itself to a considerable degree, again, disregarding ethical issues and dominating nature. Technology has dehumanised the new society and all are more concerned about 'technocommercialism'. This results in greater desire for personal gain (such as money in the case of Tyrell) and leads to a destruction of the natural environment (as of human identity) as the values of modern man often glorify the body and deny the spirit.

Both composers envisage future generations living in appalling conditions that have either lost identity or live in an environment that has been totally dominated by science. Equally, Huxley and Scott present dystopian societies through the notion that the individual has lost identity as a result of the conflict between the progress of man and the natural environment. In both circumstances, through the laboratories that produce people, drugs that evoke pleasure and conditioning that replaces families, technology becomes a dehumanising force.